We're on the back side of the Modern Pro Tour, and it was a doozy. I honored winner Luis Salvatto and his Lantern Control deck with a very special episode of Mining Modern on Monday (bonus points if you get the throwback Brainstorm Brewery reference there), and I'll be combing through all the decklists from the tournament for weeks to find the best ones to show off on Mining Modern.
But back to Standard. Helped no doubt by the fact all the pros were trying (and failing) to Break Open Modern, Standard continues to see a bunch of different decks find success, and a few weeks in the format seems to still be evolving and in a very healthy place.
Plus, I can play kitties. Sacred Cat and Adorned Pouncer? Sign me up! My one regret is I don't have the full-art Game Day versions online.
This deck made the Top 8 of the SCG Classic in Philadelphia a little more than a week ago, and I love how this deck attacks the format. Standard primarily consists of a few overarching strategies at this point – you have Hazoret decks trying to kill you quickly, you have The Scarab God decks trying to kill you slowly, and you have a handful of decks that exist in the middle trying to find the middle ground. The cool thing is that those aren't even necessarily the typical midrange deck ala Temur Energy. I think the Grixis Goodstuff decks do it best, but things like Big Red, Red-Green Monsters and White-Blue Auras pack a lot of value into their cards while still looking very different from each other.
But very few of those decks can reach all sides of the spectrum as well as White-Blue Eternalize. With the 16 creatures in the main deck all having embalm or eternalize, you get a ton of value out of your graveyard without being reliant on it. And, more importantly, the creatures all operate extremely well either offensively or defensively. Adorned Pouncer applies pressure but also blocks well early, while Sunscourge Champion is great against aggro or midrange, and Champion of Wits and Angel of Sanctions (we're still trying to bring Ryan back from exile) give you a great mid and late game.
Of course, the real kicker is that all of these creatures come back – and thanks to Anointed Procession they don't come alone. Whether it's grinding out the removal from the control decks or just creating a stream of combat trades only to come back bigger and badder, this deck can interact with all the different axis of the format at an advantage.
And because the creatures have so much resiliency, you can also put opponents into a no-win situation with Fumigate. Do they commit to the board you're flooding to try and pull ahead, only to get their stuff Wrathed before your creatures return, or do they hold back and allow you to build toward the inevitable stream of advantage you'll get late game from eternalizing those creatures anyway? There are no good options for opponents in this scenario, and a set of Chart a Course alongside a pair of Search for Azcanta mean this curves scales very well from the mid to late game.
And we get to play a full playset of my favorite answer card in Modern: Ixalan's Binding. Remember how I said things were dominated on different ends by Hazoret the Fervent and The Scarab God? Ixalan's Binding deals with both of them quite cleanly, while cutting off any and all future copies at the same time – not to mention it also hits problematic permanents like Chandra, Torch of Defiance or God-Pharaoh's Gift. With a sideboard slanted to shut down Red while also including countermagic and Gideon's Intervention for control/combo/Approach of the Second Sun decks, White-Blue Eternalize really is set up to fill a great niche in Standard, and I think it's more than capable of becoming and staying a top-tier contender.
Thanks for reading,